Emotionally Charged or In Charge? (Part 1)

The more science evolves, the more medicine heals, and the more psychology analyzes the result seems to be less of an understanding about the complexities of humans. Instead, we reduce humans to the most basic of elements in attempt to take away any sense of personal recognition, personal responsibility, and personal respectability. The latest victim in the reductions of humans is emotions.
These days, emotions have nothing to do with a person’s desires, a person’s morality, or a person’s feelings. Now they have been reduced to nothing more than chemicals within the body. Such a notion is easy to accept for a secular society because of the following:
  • Emotions Can Be Defined: Reducing emotions to nothing more than the results of chemicals means that emotions we have now can be more clearly defined (although accuracy is not necessarily considered in that definition)
  • Emotions Can Be Controlled: Because emotions are supposedly more defined and understood it gives people the sense of control over them. Now we have routines, exercises, and medications that utilize this additional knowledge in order to control emotions and achieve desired outcomes.
  • Emotions Can Be Rationalized: Finally, because emotions are nothing more than a few chemicals, they can be rationalized away.
It’s fascinating to watch as people clamor for ways in which  to control their emotions with these new understandings, and yet, when something occurs, the response is to rationalize those emotions as simple chemical imbalances that a person had no control over. To define, control, and rationalize emotions though gives people the sense of power and being in control and the outcomes of their life are not up to anything outside of themselves.
With those outcomes, one can easily see why so many are quick to adopt the mindset and suggestion that emotions are nothing more than the result of chemical interactions. Yet, few consider the consequences of such a mindset when that is accepted as truth because it ignores three major aspects:
  • It Ignores Complexity: The mindset ignores the fact that humans are complex beings full of many parts, including a body, mind, and soul and it fails to consider how each of those parts can play a part into emotions.
  • It Ignores Science: Interestingly, such a mindset ignores evolution, which is considered one of the key facets to modern science. It does this because it makes evolution responsible for those chemical reactions and adds a layer of discord to the probability that random chance could construct humans in the ‘perfect’ way.
  • It Ignores God & God’s Character: It should go without saying that the whole discussion ignores God. It dismisses God as creator and author of lives, however it goes further by denying the very essence of God’s character (as moral, just, good, etc.).
While science and God should not be in opposition of one another, the culture has made them opposites, and so it seems that if you have a concept that ignores both science and God, then it is either false or compels an existence that is independent of any reasonable assertion. Such is the consequence when rational and factual thinking is not employed . . . inconsistencies result.
However, the repercussions of these keep compounding and go even further. Consider that people accept the fact that emotions are chemical based because they can define them, control them, and rationalize them. As a result, they ignore science, God, and humanity in the process. Yet, these consequences go further because they minimize the importance of emotions by taking away the following:
  • Takes Away Responsibility: First, it takes away a person’s individual responsibility for his or her emotions. Instead, the excuse is made that the person cannot control his or her emotions because they are just a matter of chemicals not being correct (and we could add to that the excuse that the medication is simply not working if the person is taking any).
  • Takes Away Meaning: It takes away the meaning and significance of our emotions. If love is a matter of the chemicals in our brain, then love doesn’t really matter in our society does it? The same could then be said of hatred as well.
  • Takes Away Goodness: Finally, it simply takes away the goodness that come with emotions. Responding with emotions without the influence of rationality can be bad, but emotions themselves are not necessarily without goodness, especially since they come from a God who is good.
All that God has given us is good; we must simply consider that they are tainted by our sin and thus subject to misuse, misinterpretation, and misappropriation.

To claim that our emotions are simply a matter of chemical imbalances has severe implications, most notably it takes the burden of responsibility away from individuals (something we seek to do often these days). It reminds us of the need to be cautious in which claims we accept in light of a biblical worldview. It also causes us to question, as Christians, what do we do? The answer to that question comes next week in part two.

Photo “Trust No Emotion” courtesy of user Jeremy Brooks and Flickr.